March 1st, 2006 05:34 EST
RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT POPULATIONS UNDER THREAT
The most spectacular failure in the last 50 years of United Nations peacekeeping had taken place in Rwanda in 1994, that country’s representative said during the final round of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations’ two-day debate. At this meeting, represenative speakers from several nations addressed issues of cooperation with regional organizations, rapid deployment, peacekeeping in Africa, sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, and mismanagement of peacekeeping resources.
Rwanda’s representative said it was necessary to ensure that what had happened in his country is not repeated anywhere else in the world: “We must ensure that United Nations peacekeepers do what populations under threat expect of them; that is to protect them and save lives, as well as promote human rights, the rule of law and reconciliation”. The responsibility of the United Nations, in that respect, was clearly outlined in the Charter and several international conventions, and had been most recently reiterated at the 2005 World Summit.
The representative of Brazil stressed that building sustainable peace was a long, strenuous endeavour that should address the root causes of conflict. A truly representative Peacebuilding Commission, established by the 2005 World Summit, would play a critical role in providing a more coherent, timely and sustained approach. The situation in Haiti highlighted the problems that United Nations operations would face in the coming years. Their solution would not be achieved solely by military means, since those problems were deeply rooted in political and socio-economic shortfalls that went beyond security.
The representative of Iran, however, said that strengthening the relationship with regional organizations on peacekeeping operations could be useful, but regional arrangements should be seen as a temporary solution to filling the gap between United Nations peacekeeping capabilities and the demand for peacekeeping operations. United Nations peacekeeping capacity should be strengthened, rather than being regionalized. Turning to the issue of rapid deployment, he said a proposal raised by a Member State to use the capacity of non-United Nations forces, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for the purpose of rapid deployment, had caused concern. Every country could contribute to peacekeeping through traditional United Nations peacekeeping operations, without having to resort to non-United Nations sources.
The representative of Namibia said that the 2005 World Summit had supported the development and implementation of a ten-year plan for capacity-building of the African Union’s peacekeeping capabilities. In that regard, he strongly supported establishment, within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, of a full-time capacity of an interdisciplinary nature, to help coordinate and be the focal point of contact with the African Union and other partners on matters relating to African Union peacekeeping. That should be coupled with the allocation of adequate resources, in order to ensure success in enhancing the African Standing Force’s capability.
The representative of the United States said that there was a need for a greater commitment to responsible management in peacekeeping, especially as it related to addressing and eliminating misconduct and mismanagement. For years, the United Nations and Member States had largely ignored cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. A number of measures to prevent such violations and to enforce United Nations standards of conduct had been implemented over the past year. However, new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse were surfacing.
She said there were also reports of misuse and mismanagement of funds and resources involving United Nations peacekeeping operations in the field. Such acts not only endangered peacekeepers, but also the viability of peacekeeping operations. That, in turn, directly impacted the vulnerable populations that peacekeepers were to protect. The “cultures of impunity” that fostered those illicit activities must be eradicated. It was critical that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) operate with complete autonomy to investigate those matters.
Venezuela’s representative expressed concern about the new “illegitimate and illegal” Peacebuilding Commission. That body amounted to a “perverse, falsified version of multilateralism”, placed at the service of the United States and its allies, he said. Venezuela did not accept the trend aimed at steering the United Nations, as well as the principle of multilateralism, under the pretext of “organizational reform”, when such manoeuvres actually served unilateral goals and violated every such proposed reform.
Many countries called for timely reimbursement for contingent-owned equipment and troop contributions. Uruguay’s representative was concerned that some Member States had not been reimbursed for the participation in certain peace missions. She stressed that it was especially important to address that issue in the case of missions that had been closed for some time, such as Somalia and the Transitional Authority in Cambodia. She pointed out the injustice of troop contributors-- mainly developing countries-- having to maintain troops in missions, without receiving compensation for their efforts.
The issue of safety and security of United Nations peacekeeping personnel remained one of the most challenging in peacekeeping operations, speakers said. Ukraine’s representative noted that securing the adequate level of safety and security of personnel must be the central element of any peacekeeping operation. He stressed the need for optimizing the pre-mandate operational preparedness, as well as better information gathering and analyses in the field.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Nepal, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Peru, Algeria, Belarus, Guinea, Japan, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon, Ecuador, Kenya, Tunisia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Fiji, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Syria, South Africa and Timor-Leste.
The observers of the Permanent Missions of Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also spoke.
The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations will meet again in a formal meeting, at a date and time to be announced.
Source: The UN